Tom’s Story – Part 1
Over the next 3 months, we’ll be providing first-hand insight into the life of one of our clients, Tom, and his journey with us here at Arc. Keep your eyes peeled for part 2 coming next month!
Please note that names in this story have been changed for privacy purposes.
I had never even considered the possibility of being homeless. That sort of thing doesn’t happen to people like me; happily married with 2 children, living in a loving home. Or so I thought.
When my wife got a new job, she became more and more stressed with her increasingly busy lifestyle and started taking it out on me. At first it was just the shouting – but then it turned into physical violence. I blamed myself, at first, and turned to alcohol to cope. As the abuse continued, so did my alcohol dependency, and eventually, I had no other choice but to move out and involve the police. I was devastated to have to leave my children behind. I contacted a friend who also lived in Taunton who kindly agreed to let me sleep on his sofa for a while. Away from my wife, I was free from physical abuse, but she continued to be emotionally abusive. My alcohol dependency got worse and my friend eventually kicked me out – I had nowhere to go. I was a failure.
Homeless and completely alone, I found myself rough sleeping on the streets of Taunton town centre. By this point, my alcohol dependency had turned into full-blown addiction. I was really at rock bottom. Then, one morning, I was approached by Arc’s Outreach Team. I was hesitant at first as they started up a conversation, but they were really friendly and made me feel like I wasn’t being judged. They gave me a hot drink and then referred me to Lindley House.
On my arrival at Lindley House, I was placed in a room and introduced to my Support Worker, Lucy. It was a daunting experience – going from complete isolation on the streets to a warm, safe place with lots of people around me. I found it hard to adapt initially, as the amount of people around me made me feel vulnerable. But after the first few weeks, I began to feel a lot more comfortable with my new surroundings. Lucy and the other staff at Lindley House really helped me to become more confident and speak to others, and I started to feel like ‘part of the family’. I came to realise that asking for help wasn’t a sign of weakness and, with help, was able to control my drinking.
One of the first activities I got involved in at Lindley House was a cooking class run by Arc volunteers. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn, as well as keep me busy and away from the alcohol. I found that I really had a passion for creating new recipes from ingredients, and that cooking came quite naturally to me!
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. During one of the classes, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with a particular recipe and ended up getting it wrong. It sounds silly, but all of those initial feelings of failure came flooding back to me. So, I started drinking again, and spent the next month or two fighting my addiction.
It took a few months, but Lucy eventually helped me to get back on track. It’s not been easy, and my progress has been in baby steps, but I’ve been referred to a counsellor to help me process the abuse from my wife and I have my first support session for my drinking coming up next week.
I know it’s going to be a long process, but for the first time in a long time, I am hopeful.